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Richard Piatt reportingUndecided voters in the race for Utah Governor had an opportunity to listen to the candidates at length Monday night.
The candidates met in a town hall meeting format. Neither of the candidates were sure about it at first. But it did give voters a different look at Scott Matheson and Jon Huntsman--answering questions from the audience.
From funding education to state worker salaries, gay marriage and the environment. The candidates had an hour to put forward where they stand.
Their priorities differ; education for Matheson; economic development for Huntsman. In each case, the candidates say 'we can do better'.
Jon Huntsman Jr./ (R) Candidate For Governor: "It's about jobs. It's about higher paying jobs, and about more of those jobs."
Scott Matheson Jr./ (D) Candidate For Governor: "We need to make sure that we respect and value teachers, because that's the starting point and that's whwere we should go from there."
When asked: "Will you be willing to raise taxes, or will you let per pupil funding fall further?" the answer from both was no, as education took up the bulk of the time.
Huntsman favors trying Tuition Tax Credits. Matheson worries it will cost public education too much.
But the candidates took on other issues, too. Both pledge to break the stalemate on wilderness issues. Each vow to finish Legacy Highway.
Both want higher salaries for state employees; better benefits for Medicaid patients.
The candidates differ sharply on Amendment Three, which would define male-female marriage in the state constitution.
For the audience, picking a candidate was the goal, with mixed results.
Kalyn Denny/Debate Questioner: "I came to the debate with my mind made up about the candidate and found myself agreeing with his responses."
Ryan Nigbor/Debate Questioner: "I like their points of view. It makes it a lot more difficult for me to decide now."
This is one of the last televised debates between the two candidates before the election. There will be more coverage in tomorrow's Deseret Morning News.